Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend Wind-Down:: Picture Perfect Characters


This weekend at The Pink Heart Society award winning author and 2008 RITA Finalist Linda Goodnight talks to us about Picture Perfect Characters...

I’m a very visual person. A photo can inspire me to write an entire book. Recently, my editor called while I was in the midst of a tight deadline wanting ideas for my next contracted book. My brain was steeped in the current manuscript and could not come up with a single thought, much less a full-fledged idea. Then an interesting thing occurred. My son emailed a photo to me. Five minutes later I contacted my editor with an idea which has now become “The Baby Bond”, a future Love Inspired.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. For all of my books I use photos as inspiration--Photos of the setting, the characters, their homes, and even of their bedrooms. When the other authors of The Wedding Planners and I were in the planning stage of the series, we came up with photos of the building and offices that would carry through all six books.

Then I began to brainstorm my contribution, Winning the Single Mom’s Heart. I searched the internet for just the right photo of my ‘cake fairy’ Natalie, her hero Cooper, and her twins.

Reese Witherspoon seemed perfect to play the part of Natalie, a perky, diabetic, determined to stand on her own two feet, cake designer.

A young version of the Olsen Twins, one naughty and one nice, became Rose and Lily, Natalie’s twins.

The hardest part in this little play to cast was Dr. Cooper Sullivan. Sexy, brilliant, driven, and born to wealth, he was a real GQ kind of man. Early on, I found a photo and tried to make him become Cooper. He would not cooperate, so back to the internet I went. Finally, I settled on Patrick Dempsey, changed his eyes to dark brown, and made him a bit younger. Voila’! I had Cooper Sullivan. What do you think? Does he work? Any thoughts about other GQ kind of men I might have used?

Below is a blurb about Cooper and Natalie’s story. Romantic Times Magazine called it: “charming, funny, and deeply emotional.” It arrives in stores in the U.S. at the end of June, so I hope you’ll give it a read and let me know if I’ve hit the mark with my choice of characters.

Widow Natalie Thompson is too focused on raising her twins and making ends meet to even want a Mr. Right in her life. Her Mr. Right died—and she’s still mad at him about that. Then Dr. Cooper Sullivan, her late husband’s friend and fiercest competitor enters the picture. Natalie is sure he only wants to best her husband in the one way he never did—by winning her. With one matchmaking and one sabotaging twin tossed into the fray, is there any hope for romance between the doctor and the reluctant wedding baker?

Also visit The Wedding Planners’ Blog for fun and prizes!

Linda's contribution to The Wedding Planners - Winning The Single Mom's Heart - is on sale in the UK, Ireland, the USA and Canada in July...

To find out more about Linda and her books you can visit her Website and her Blog.

Thanks Linda!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Film Night:: Ladyhawke


This Friday at The Pink Heart Society Modern Heat Author Natalie Anderson is here to tell us about Ladyhawke...

Choosing a movie for tonight turned out to be surprisingly easy – I went with Ladyhawke – the one and only movie I own on DVD. I found it in the bargain DVD bin at the supermarket not long ago. I’d loved it as a teenager and guess what – I still love it! (It’s not that I think it’s the greatest movie ever made by the way, but I hadn’t seen it in ages and just scooped it up with the shopping – and with all the kids and the writing, I don’t get to the movies much so this was a quick pick).

Ladyhawke is basically a medieval paranormal fantasy, romance and battle of good against evil set to the most appalling 80s soundtrack ever composed – but don’t let that put you off! The music makes me giggle actually, which is a good way to get you in the mood for some fun I guess, because the movie opens with ‘Phillipe the Mouse’s’ escape from the ‘inescapable’ dungeons of Aquila and Phillipe has some really funny lines. Alas for Phillipe (a young Mathew Broderick in fine form) the city’s soldiers catch up with him but then he’s rescued by a Knight dressed all in black. Cue lots of sword play and firing of arrows (it does get a little gory at times actually).

Phillipe is pretty much stuck with the black Knight then – something he’s a little uncomfortable with – especially when the Knight offers very little info re who he is, where he’s from and what he’s wanting. Mr Strong Silent Type all round he is. Over the next couple of days Phillipe notices the knight disappears after dark, while a beautiful woman appears from nowhere around the same time and there’s a wolf prowling around...

It turns out the woman is Isabeau – a couple of years ago she fell in love with Captain Navarre and he with her and they were married in secret by a monk. Unfortunately for them both, the Bishop has also fallen for Isabeau – and once he found out from the monk about their love, he determines that if he can’t have her, no man can. So the evil Bishop makes a pact with the devil – turning Navarre into a wolf by night and Isabeau into a hawk by day – thus they are ‘always together, always apart’ – and the only glimpse they have of each other in human form is in the split second of dawn breaking. Navarre plans to get back into Aquila to have his revenge on the Bishop – and this is why he needs Phillipe.

Anyway, at one point, in escaping the Bishop’s soldiers, the hawk is hurt by an arrow. Navarre sends Phillipe on ahead to an old, predictably drunk, monk – the monk who married them and then betrayed them to the Bishop. After fixing up Isabeau (and her transformation terrifying poor old Phillipe) the monk reveals he’s determined to make amends and thinks he has found a way of breaking the curse – a time is coming when day becomes night and night becomes day. If Isabeau and Navarre stand in human form before the Bishop at this moment the curse will be lifted. Navarre, of course, has no faith in the monk anymore and plans to simply kill the Bad-guy Bishop. Phillipe and the monk plot otherwise…

Rutger Hauer is the wonderful taciturn, wounded hero riding round trying to figure out his revenge. I am not one for blondes usually but he has lovely eyes and such a strong physique and what he doesn’t say in words he says so clearly in his expression…

Michelle Pfeiffer is the luminous, beautiful (even with short, scraggly hair) Isabeau.

Matthew Broderick is hilarious as Phillipe – the perfect light relief. As the film progresses he acts as ‘interpreter’ for the two – telling Isabeau what Navarre has ‘said’ of her – and indeed Navarre has, in his burning eyes and agonised cry when he almost sees her at daybreak.

The movie isn’t so much about the development of a relationship – you never doubt Isabeau and Navarre’s love – it is purely the fight between good and evil, the redemption of the old monk and the restoration of faith and hope in Navarre. Its done beautifully – the sense of love and romance is amazingly strong when the hero and heroine aren’t on screen together for almost all of the movie – but this is what makes it so special – you’re aching for them to be together almost as much as they are.

Intense action is contrasted with poignant scenes of painful separation. The scenes across the countryside are beautiful, the cast gorgeous… there’s just that awful soundtrack… but if you can get past that, it’s a wonderful fantasy film that leaves you feeling uplifted and satisfied.

For a while there you could watch the entire movie on YouTube but its been taken down - there are LOADS of fan video tributes though – set to even worse soundtracks than the original! But it’s still available for rent in my local DVD store and I’m sure you could pick it up for very little at your local supermarket too!

Of course, if you want to cheat, you can just watch the end here (be warned, there’s a slightly gory moment when the Bishop gets his comeuppance) - and you have to stay for the credits to get the full effect of the 80s soundtrack ;)




Natalie has two releases this month – HIS MISTRESS BY ARRANGEMENT is out in the US while PLEASURED BY THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE is out in the UK...

You can check out her website at http://www.natalie-anderson.com for excerpts, reviews and other news!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Talk Time :: Awards and Reviews

Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke is here today wondering just how much attention readers pay to reviews (the good, the bad, and the indecent) and book awards. You know, because before she started this writing gig, she never looked beyond what was written on a cover...


There are tons of them out there. Review sites. Writing contests. Book contests. I'm still trying to figure out how a writer is supposed to know which review sites readers actually, you know, read, and which contests might give you a grain of industry respect. This is mainly because before entering the industry, I wasn't aware either existed.

Yes, I knew books got reviewed. I'd seen a handful in my local paper - never romance. The closest I came to a romance review was the one line reccomendation on the front of a book. You know "Lovely" and then an author name you may have heard of. Needless to say, reviews and awards have never cluttered my opinion of what to read next.

Now that I'm in the business, I need to know which reviewers are respected, which get the most reads, which translate into sales, which contests turn the heads of industry bigwigs...the list goes on. It's quite daunting. How do you know which to pay attention to and which to ignore?

With both print and online review sites there are many choices of where to have your book read and talked about. However, just because a website bills itself as a review site doesn't mean it's reviews are read by anyone other than the author. And some sites are more about entertainment than informing which books to read and which to pass on.

Contests are a better bet when it comes to finding great reads...but they're not as easily accessible. Each one is annual, so by the time the announcement of finalists are made some category titles can be next to impossible to find.

At last count I think there were about twenty contests for published romances. Only a few of those get instant respect - RNA prize, RUBY, RITA, Holt Medallion, Booksellers Best, National Readers Choice. Some books fare better in contests, others reviews, and still others in sales.

With the RITA awards just over a month away, I'm excited to find out the winner. What do you think of reviews and contests? Which review sites do you look to for reading reccomendations? Which contests have you reading the entire list of finalists?



Jenna is hard at work on her next title for Mills & Boon Modern Heat. In the meantime, For Kicks is available with a bubble baths, hotel suites, a deck of Tarot cards, skinny dipping, and a hot phone sex scene.

Check out her
website, orblog



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Temptation Tuesday:: The Lure Of The Tango


This Tuesday at The Pink Heart Society Irish author Abby Green talks to us about one of her personal temptations... the sublimely sexy Tango...

Tempted by the tango. I’ve been tempted by the tango ever since I watched a blind Al Pacino waltzing across the dance floor with a beautiful woman in the movie ‘Scent of a woman’, although it was many years later before I actually went and signed up for classes. To say that it has surpassed anything I could have imagined in terms of its sensuality is an understatement. I’m not talking about ballroom tango, I’m talking about the real thing, Argentine Tango.

The dance originated in the backstreets of Buenos Aires and was danced firstly by immigrants, where the men danced with men in the absence of women. Then it was hijacked and taken into the salons and dancing halls of the upper classes. Tango embodies to me everything that the classic modern romance stands for. Passion, intense attraction, integrity, pain, love, hate, strength, balance and beauty. When you see two people in love dance a tango together it is truly the most mesmerising thing. The observer feel like a voyeur.

A tango dance can be fun, or melancholic, or flirty or intense. Or sometimes all those things in the space of one dance! Some people’s image of tango is the cliché of rose in the mouth, staccato music and what looks like a man being overly dominant. But the true tango is much more subtle than that. In the milongas of Buenos Aires a man will catch a woman’s eye from across the room and with the most subtle inclination of his head indicate that he wishes to dance with her. She then has the choice to reciprocate or not and can with just a flick of her hair dismiss the man. If she does accept the dance, it is customary to dance three tangos together. The space in a milonga is usually heaving with couples so dramatic steps are not welcome. It is much more intimate, much less like the showy tango you might see in the movies. The high leg flicks, while very impressive, could take another person’s eye out in a milonga!

Tango speaks of an unspoken language. And while it looks impossibly intimate, there is a space between the couple that allows for movement. A true tango dancer will allow his partner the freedom to make the most beautiful steps. It is completely led by the man, but within that, the woman can make her autonomy known. When he stops her foot with his and then moves back, she draws her own foot up his leg provocatively. When he bends his knee, touching her thigh, he leads her to flick her leg under his, giving her a chance to show her flair, her style, her passion.

The best tango teacher I ever had always took great pains to show the men that really, all they are doing is being the support for the woman, who is the real flower of the dance.

I’ll leave you with a quote of what the essence of tango is about:

Tango is a dance, the music a melancholy, the embrace a hope and the movement a dialogue…

And some youtube viewing so you can see what I mean:

http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=JRlfTwz7gCg

http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=kTErGxYVsYI

Happy Dancing! Abby Green

Abby's most recent release is The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail Bargain for the Modern Line in the UK and Ireland. You can order the book right now from the Mills & Boon website and it'll be on the shelves at the end of June!

To find out more about Abby and her books you can visit her Website

Monday, June 16, 2008

Male On Monday:: Carter Oosterhouse


This Monday At The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie brings you a rather lovely gift she had emailed to her recently... meet Carter Oosterhouse...

Ladies - YOU'RE WELCOME. I could pretty much just post the pics of this guy and they would speak for themselves. N'est pas??? He has hero material oozing from every pore in my humble opinion.

And he's EXACTLY why I LOVE the hero database on my website... cos without it, the very lovely Sally might never have emailed him to me. And MAN what a LOSS that would have been! To my writing buddies across the pond I have this to say - WHY-OH-WHY has this guy NEVER been pointed out to me BEFORE NOW?! Huh?! To Jenna in particular - if you KNEW about him and never told me... *insert manic laughter*... cute baby to distract me with or no cute baby... you're goin' DOWN my friend.

Now back to the gorgeous Carter.

Carter Nicholas Oosterhouse was born on 19th September 1976 and raised in Traverse City, Michigan. The youngest of four children he began learning carpentry skills at the age of 11 and continued working in construction and carpentry on and off throughout high school and college.

A natural athlete, he excelled in sports and attended Central Michigan University on a rugby scholarship. Carter continues to be an avid sports enthusiast and counts basketball, kayaking, horseback riding, hockey, sailing, baseball and rugby among his favorites...

After earning his Bachelor of Arts in nutrition and communication, Carter relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling and acting career. While struggling to get his big break he continued to work in carpentry to pay his bills; his first job in TV working behind-the-scenes for Project: Greenlight as a production assistant and tape coordinator. When going for an audition for a new show on TLC, Carter ended up landing a part on the already popular show Trading Spaces, and joined the cast in their fourth season. In that same year, TLC also added the spin-offs Trading Spaces: Family and Trading Spaces: Boys V. Girls to their programs, which allowed him the opportunity to work with children.

In 2004, Carter went on to do an episode of CBS Sunday Morning in New York in which he remodeled correspondent Bill Geist's office with the help of commentator Andy Rooney and in 2005 he was a contributor to NBC's show Three Wishes where he visited small towns across America to help wishes come true... (I'm assuming that was in carpentry and remodelling terms...)

From his first appearance on TV audiences took notice of the 6ft 2 carpenter (Yeah - I wonder why...) People magazine even featured him in their "Sexiest Man Alive" issue in 2003. He's also been on the cover and featured in many other publications including TV Guide, Star, US Weekly, Organic Style and USA Today.

Carter even charmed Oprah Winfrey, who has repeatedly had him on her show. Audiences may have also caught him several times on the Tony Danza Show, On-Air With RyanSeacrest, Inside Edition, The Tyra Banks Show and Extra. He even won $20,000 on Celebrity Poker for the Los Angeles-based charity Coach for Kids. Carter is happy to lend his time and talent to several children's charities including New York's Books for Kids, Coach for Kids and the Fulfillment Fund in Los Angeles.

Dunno about you lot but seems like a VERY worthy candidate for hero material in my book - no pun intended!

Apparently if called America's Favourite Handyman to his face - a tagname he gained after his contribution to the NBC morning show Today -Carter will half-chuckle and half-groan; he's considered one of TV's most down-to-earth and laid back personalities. He splits his spare time between his L.A. modern home and Michigan Victorian farm and has made even more of a name for himself with his TV Show Carter Can - the home improvement show that began in the Fall/Autumn of 2007 alongside The Inside Job; a behind-the-scenes view of Carter Can, which offers homeowners take away information. When asked what his favorite room was in his own homes he said:

"
The kitchen (in the Michigan home) is amazing. It's definitely set up for having friends and family over and entertaining. The kitchen has a very open floor plan where you can see into the living room, dining room and family room. Big island, concrete countertops, farmhouse sink with a gooseneck faucet, big, double-door fridge and freezer and a six-burner stove and range. The thing is I'm not even married yet or have kids, but I set it up for down the road. It's a great place to one day retire to."

Can't help but wonder how he'd feel about adding a writing room and a few horses at the door... But maybe that's just me...

Carter has established a new foundation for kids called Build It Up building playgrounds alongside members of the community starting in the Los Angeles Unified School District and as if that wasn't enough, he's an eco-friendly carpenter - finding ways to incorporate green solutions into each episode of his new show Carter Can - something he carries over into his own life...

Well. I'm sold. Anyone else think when it comes to inspiring a fictional hero Carter can...???

H's & K's

Trish


Trish’s next release is in Australia and New Zealand where GABE is making a bid for world wide recognition in Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy… The book is available from eharlequin Australia RIGHT NOW and will be on the shelves in July.

To find out more about Trish and her books you can visit her Website or Her Blog